Hastings, Bexhill, Icklesham, Fairlight, Winchelsea, St Leonards, Robertsbridge, Brede, Guestling.

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Where do local people turn to for counselling or psychotherapy?

We are in a time when mental health is increasingly recognised as one of the most debilitating illnesses that causes immense distress to many people

At a recent meeting the question of how a person would go about locating a counselling therapist was raised? For many individuals it is such huge step to take, firstly to recognise that there is a problem, then to take steps actively seek help. But where should a person begin?

It is estimated that of those individuals who approach their GP, relatively few actually receive counselling. Many people express dismay at having to wait for lengthy periods only to be rationed into a few sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy.

There is generally a waiting list for over six months to see an NHS psychologist. This is unhelpful as the problem is here-and-now. Sussex counselling can provide immediate access to therapeutic intervention, helping people find strategies to reduce their symptoms in the present, not some time in the distant future

 

East Sussex counselling are currently receiving clients from, Hastings, Bexhill, Icklesham, Fairlight, Winchelsea, St Leonards, Robertsbridge, Brede, Guestling.

Please contact to discuss your situation

Domestic violence refuge provision at crisis point, warn charities

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Despite the government’s claims to de-stigmatise mental health and make psychological therapies more accessible to the public, the last decade has seen the systematic axing of funding in the mental health charitable sector. This trend to remove affordable therapy and safe places of refuge are felt across the entire sector of mental health providers.

This harrowing article in the Guardian highlights the effects that cuts have wrought on domestic violence refuge providers READ MORE

Why Talk to a Therapist?

menWhy indeed? What’s so different from speaking with a friend?

Why should a person pay for someone else to listen?

Friends and relatives may certainly be of help and support in many instances and their contribution should never be undervalued. However the unique advantage a therapist has over these close relationships is their ability to remain impartial and objective. Therapists have undergone many years of interpersonal training, personal therapy and reflection that has enabling effects on allowing them to walk alongside the client during painful journey while not becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the content.

Many of our friends and relatives are too close, knowing something very deep and personal may change the nature of the relationship,

Furthermore close people may have some vested interest in the material of the disclosing party and unintentionally end up exacerbating the issue(s).

Relationships with family members or friends often rely on how each person perceives the other. Revealing something that was hitherto unknown can inadvertently change the nature of a relationship.

A therapist can offer a safe space for an individual to try out and practice saying what they feel they need to reveal, at the client’s pace and only what the client feels is necessary.

A therapist is completely non-judgemental and intuitively knows what is necessary to reflect back to the client and may suggest alternative perspectives or strategies to consider.

An experienced therapist will have a wide range of therapeutic knowledge and a rich palate of world experiences to draw upon and provide for their client.

There is some further useful information contained in this article

 

Mental illness mostly caused by life events not genetics, argue psychologists

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When a third of all G.P. surgery consultations relate to mental health problems and a half of all adults experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives why is it that the MRC (Medical Health Council) allocate only 3% of their annual research budget on mental health research? Furthermore of this 3% the greatest slice of the pie is spent on genetics and neuroscience.

This seems misappropriation as it is widely recognised that the origins of the majority of mental health problems lie in complex societal factors such as relationships, self perception, employment, resource insecurity to mention a few, rather than biological factors.

In this article published in the Telegraph, 

So it would seem that money goes into machines and not into understanding interpersonal factors

 

Screen addiction: an unforeseen consequence of technology?

Is it just a matter of time until we need to tailor a counselling service specifically for screen addiction?

A lot of time is spent using social media. Users find it highly competitive. There is continuous pressure and judgement on how many followers, or pictures that are posted. For many it has become an obsession to check up and see what other people are doing, rather than actually getting on real life. We have become totally attached to our phones, continually messaging each other and updating our life blogs. If we are away from it we run the danger of being left out.

In 2013, Internet Gaming Disorder was placed in the chief psychiatric guidebook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, as a diagnosis that needs more research before it’s officially accepted. However, it’s important to understand that the wheels of psychiatry turn slowly, e.g., gambling addiction was only recognized as a diagnosis in 2013. In contrast to the U.S. position, China, South Korea, and Japan recognize youth video game/Internet addiction as a diagnosis, consider it a serious public health problem, and China and South Korea have hundreds of treatment centers devoted to the problem. (Huffington Post READ MORE)

“Taken together, [studies show] internet addiction is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention,decision making, and cognitive control.”  –research authors summarizing neuro-imaging findings in internet and gaming addiction (Lin & Zhou et al, 2012) Psychology Today  READ MORE

Suppressing traumatic memories can cause amnesia, research suggests

It has long been understood in the world of psychotherapy that traumatic experience frequently leads to suppression of unwanted memories. These unwanted memories become locked away in a kind of time capsule, blocked from consciousness these traumatic experiences continue to exist in a person’s subconscious; simultaneously many emotional states or responses associated with the events also become locked into this time capsule. These unconscious processes that continue to exert themselves on individuals perceptions of life and influence everyday actions. Now there is neurological research to corroborate these findings. Suppressing bad memories from the past can block memory formation in the here and now, research suggests. The following study could help explain why those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological conditions often experience difficulty in remembering recent events.

A recent study (you can read the full article here; Justin C. Hulbert, Richard N. Henson & Michael C. Anderson) “Inducing amnesia through systemic suppression”, explores how forgetting past incidents by suppressing  recollections can create a “virtual lesion” in the brain that casts an “amnesiac shadow” over the formation of new memories. “If you are motivated to try to prevent yourself from reliving a flashback of that initial trauma, anything that you experience around the period of time of suppression tends to get sucked up into this black hole as well,” Dr Justin Hulbert

Decades of research on memory formation show that the hippocampus is essential for constructing new episodic memories. Hippocampal damage irreversibly harms people’s ability to store new memories, causing profound amnesia for life’s events

Reversibly disturbing the hippocampus through optogenetic, electrical and pharmacological interventions temporarily disrupts memory formation. Research indicates that people often downregulate hippocampal activity through cognitive control when they are reminded of an unwelcome event and try to stop retrieval.

Together, these findings imply a striking possibility: if stopping (suppressing) episodic retrieval reduces hippocampal activity, this may broadly disturb all hippocampal functions, including—critically—processes necessary to form and retain new, stable memories.

Retrieval suppression may, in essence, induce a transient ‘virtual lesion’, leaving in its wake, an amnesic shadow for any experiences—whether related or not to the memory being suppressed—that simply have the misfortune of happening near in time to efforts to forget.

Professor Chris Brewin, an expert in PTSD from University College, London, who was not involved in the study.

“I think it makes perfect sense because we know that people with a wide range of psychological problems have difficulties with their everyday memories for ordinary events,” “Potentially this could account for the memory deficits we find in depression and other disorders too.”  (Guardian 15 March 2016)

Dangers of Meditation

Meditation is great for our well being – but does it carry any dangers?

Article by Itai Ivtzan Ph.D.    Psychology Today 11 March 2016 

In this article Itai Ivtzan argues there could be potential risks to certain individuals, These include:

  • Facing dormant or buried emotions. One profound  experience  encountered during meditation is the interaction with yourself. This can often get people in touch with buried and suppressed emotions for which they are not prepared.
  • Frustration at not achieving the experience which is hoped for. There are many claims of elaborate transcendence in popular culture which can be unrealistic or un-achievable.
  • Being with the wrong practitioner or not in the ‘right’ type of practice.  There are many approaches to meditation, with many claiming that there is only one effective way to meditate. Such claims are just restrictive. Practising a wrong meditation technique or with the wrong practitioner could be a harmful experience for a person
  • Meditation is not a replacement for therapy. If someone is facing difficulties and seeking help, meditation might not offer the support they are hoping for. It might be that they need to see a therapist to feel heard and understood.
  • Not being able supply enough self-compassion . Engagement with meditation can present uncomfortable feelings and sensations within. Practice requires an obligation towards ourselves to be self-compassionate. A peril lies here in pushing too far, too much, beyond the capacity of our heart and soul, at that given moment.
  • Dangers of non-attachment. Non-attachment is one of the building blocks of meditation. It is the skill of taking a step back from whatever happens, or whatever we feel, acknowledging that it is transient, and accepting that it will soon change and transform. However,  such non-attachment does not mean avoiding, repressing or disregarding anything. We should not detach ourselves from the people and activities we love and enjoy, nor should we become passive or inactive.

Talking therapies can be better than pills, but you have to find the right one

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Talking therapies can be seen as a viable alternative to the over-medicalisation of mental health conditions. However, if something has real effectiveness, a transformative power to change life, it also has the ability to make things worse if it is misapplied, the wrong treatment or  done incorrectly.

Letting someone poke around inside your car or laptop is likely to do more harm than good unless the it’s done by someone who is properly qualified to fix it; why shouldn’t the same be applied to a distressed mind?

AdEPT    Is an organisation commited to understanding and Preventing the Adverse Effects of Psychological Therapies. They have published a very useful site promoting and supporting safe therapy for both therapists and clients click the link for more details “supporting safe therapy”

Medicalising unhappiness: new classification of depression risks more patients being put on drug treatment from which they will not benefit

Extracts taken from the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2013;347:f7140 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f7140 (Published 9 December 2013)

In England, antidepressant prescribing increased at over 10% each year between 1998 and 2010, a rise far greater than for any other psychiatric medication.

Descriptions of a mental condition can be interpreted in so many ways depending on the perspective of the interested parties. With regard to diagnosing depression as a disorder there are four major players in this arena; firstly there is the psychiatric community who determine and publish the DSM-5. Secondly there is the pharmaceutical industry, thirdly there are the G.P’s and fourthly there is the public itself

The recently published DSM-5 broadened the diagnosis of major depressive disorder to incorporate milder forms of depression and sadness. For example bereavement grief (not an mental illness in itself) became assigned to the status of a major depressive disorder allowing a diagnosis after just two weeks following a bereavement.

In addition the homogenisation of major depressive disorder has been in part a consequence of heavy drug company marketing and an over-strong focus among many psychiatrists on the biological correlates of psychiatric symptoms rather than the psychological, social, and cultural.

For GPs a diagnosis of depression may be an attractive instrument for managing uncertainty in the consulting room, especially as its commonest treatment comes in the form of a once daily pill and is encouraged by clinical guidelines and indicators.

In Western societies there is a trend for the public to expect the right to happiness and a need to restrict the range of negative emotions that are considered unacceptable and abnormal

 Patients often request treatment for symptoms of sadness, and both doctors and patients can feel obliged to offer and accept a diagnosis of major depressive disorder.

There is still a widely held view that all depression is “brain disease” caused by chemical imbalance which can be “corrected” by pills. Countering this belief is all important and achieved by noting the relevance of life circumstances.

Patients can be helped by G.P’s listening carefully to their story, promoting the value of time as a healer and encouraging them to build resilience through  support. A diagnosis of depression as a disorder may not be appropriate. Patients should be able to receive an alternative to pharmaceuticals such as counselling to help them through a complex array of thoughts that have no biological basis

 bmj.depression full article

Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Lesser known conditions that are ‘just as serious’ as anorexia and bulimia

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Independent 23rd Feb 2016: Kashmira Gander

 

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are dealing with eating disorders, and attempting to cope with skewed attitudes towards food and obsessive behaviours. This article brings into focus several other types of eating disorders which are equally as serious

Anorexia nervosa, where a person restricts their food and exercises excessively, and bulimia, where a food is binged on and purged, are among the most commonly known disorders. However many people display symptoms present in more than one disorder, Mary George, a spokeswoman for eating disorder charity Beat told The Independent.

She stressed that such conditions can be “just as serious” and can impact people’s lives, as well as those of their families, carers and communities.

She added that a report published by Beat in 2015 found that nearly 50 per cent of those affected have binge eating disorder.

Ms George highlighted that those who seek help early have a 33 per cent relapse rate compared with 63 per cent who sought help later.

“A change in behaviour, withdrawing from social situations, avoiding mealtimes are all possible signs of the illnesses,” she said, urging anyone concerned that they have an eating disorder to seek help as soon as possible from their GP. Further information can be found on the Beat website.

Nia Charpentier from Rethink Mental Illness said: “Eating disorders are complex and there are many different kinds, but what they all have in common is an unhealthy relationship with food and weight. It’s important to remember that anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of age, gender, cultural or racial background.”

To mark Eating Disorder Awareness week, here are some lesser known eating disorders and conditions linked to obsession and body image.

Binge eating disorder

This condition is characterised by eating a large quantity of food over a short period of time on a regular basis.

Those dealing with binge-eating disorder are known to buy foods especially for bingeing episodes, according to the NHS.

In rare cases, those with the condition report losing control over what they eat and experiencing a state of confusion where they do not remember what they consumed.

Feelings of guilt associated with over-eating and gorging in private to avoid embarrassment are also apparent.

Such behaviour interferes with the body’s blood sugar regulation, leading to cravings.

Muscle dysmorphic disorder

The form of body dysmophic disorder linked to anxiety is also known as “megarexia” or “bigorexia”.

Mainly affecting men, it involves a person becoming fixated with becoming muscular, sculpting a lean physique, and striving for a particular shape.

In a reverse of the symptoms of anorexia, those with the condition believe their bodies are small despite being large and muscular.

Those with the condition spend an excessive amount of time weightlifting with the aim of building muscle, even when injured, and are overly pre-occupied with working out.

They are also obsessed by food, and become fixated with special diets and supplements.

Compulsively comparing physique with others and mood swings are also signs, according to the Body Dysmorphia Disorder Foundation.

Orthorexia

Not a medically recognised disorder, orthorexia has been gaining traction as “clean eating” and attending the gym have become more fashionable.  Coined in 1997 by Dr Steven Bratman, the term describes an obsession with healthy eating and “disease disguised as virute”. Ms George of Beat told The Independent last year that such actions resemble obessive compulsive disorder, such as being fixated on eating “pure” foods, and avoiding contamination with “impure” foods. The heightened awareness of such behaviours are linked to the “huge focus on healthy diet and lifestyle,” said Ms George.

Pica

Eating items that aren’t food and have no nutritional value for at least a month is the main sign that a person has pica.

Sometimes triggered by a lack of nutrients, according to the US National Library of Medicine, pica sufferers have been known to eat animal faeces, glass, clay, dirt, hairballs, ice, paint and sand.

The condition can be particularly dangerous when the fixation involves sharp objects or lead paint.

“Most people will be familiar with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, but there are many others. For example Orthorexia, which is a fixation on eating food that you feel is healthy and pure. It may begin as a healthy diet but becomes rigorous and obsessive. Another example is Pica, which is when you eat things you shouldn’t, like chalk, stones or cigarette butts. The symptoms of these two examples differ greatly, but they both come back to the unhealthy relationship with food, and can have serious, even fatal, consequences on your health,” said Ms Charpentier.

Emotional overeating

Responding to negative emotions by consuming large amounts of food regardless of whether a person is hungry is what sets emotional eating apart from other disorders.

People with the condition use the behaviour as a coping mechanism, but are then plagued by feelings of guilt and shame. Foods high in fat and sugar are often sought, and overtime, the condition can lead to weight gain.

While physical hunger comes on gradually, emotional hunger hits suddenly and needs to be satisfied immediately, according the Beat. Eating until a person is full does not stop their urge to continue.